Just another 24 hours and the press will start its Old Firm drum banging.
The moment the cup semi finals are out of the way – the moment tonight’s is actually – it’ll have started.
Yesterday I wrote about how Ibrox is no longer a place to fear.
I stand by those words.
What’s equally apparent is that the club calling itself Rangers is nothing to fear. Last season, in the space of six games, we scored sixteen times again them. We knocked them out of two cups. We inflicted two 5-1 brutalities on them. This season could be worse.
I don’t expect it. Surely Caixinha has learned something?
But I wouldn’t be shocked it if happened.
Last year, before the first of these six games, I wrote a piece on how sick I already was of the hated Old Firm tag being used to define the game. I continue to be repelled by it, and that has less to do with Sevco not actually being Rangers than it is to do with the simple fact that I was already well sick of it before that club died.
I can’t stand the term and want nothing to do with any such “rivalry” which, actually, was a badge of convenience that benefited only one half of it and which the media tries to resurrect because it is the only thing that makes Sevco relevant to the world outside Scotland.
That’s reason enough, right there, to not want anything to do with it.
Nevertheless I thought that last season presented us with an opportunity, a chance to show the world how ridiculous the term was by quite literally making it redundant. Two 5-1 pastings later, I am amazed that the lesson hasn’t got through yet.
We inflicted more trauma on Sevco last season than we did on any other side.
Yet they still delude themselves about being in a position to catch us. What more proof do they, and the world as a whole, actually need that the term could not be less appropriate? What kind of rivalry is based on one side constantly getting whipped?
Celtic will dominate these ties again this season. Will we secure a 100% win record in them? I have no idea but it’s not impossible. I view it as pretty straightforward; they are a bang average SPL team, which means that if we show up and mean business we’ll win more of them than not. In plain speaking, I can’t see past us giving them a going over on Saturday, and if we do then I can see us doing the clean sweep of wins in this campaign, easily.
So imagine that.
Imagine a Celtic – Sevco record that reads played 11 (assume no cup games) with Celtic on 9 wins, 1 draw and one loss on penalties. Not exactly a searing series to give El Classico a run for its money, right? And if you subtract from that pitiful record what Brendan achieves on his own … 9 wins out of 10.
Rivalry? Don’t make me laugh.
All of this is based on a big assumption, of course, that we win at the weekend and then sweep them away in the next three games, should they make the split. I’m also well aware that they’ll be on a new manager long before the last of those games … but if we win this weekend – and especially if it’s a heavy one – the clean sweep does not seem ridiculous.
And if it happens the idea of the “rivalry” will be rendered moot, laughable, unbelievable, utterly without foundation of any kind.
It was death by misadventure, a grim mix of suicide and murder.
They died and have been swept down the long corridor of history, and the so-called Old Firm rivalry with them.
I read, this morning, for the first team in years, Byron’s stunning denunciation in death of Castlereagh, the man who gave the world the evil Act of Irish Union, marrying that island to Britain against its will.
It seems fitting to offer those words now, as an epitaph to Scottish football’s own ancient union of hate, as our fans prepare to take their trip to Ibrox, all that’s left of that club and the only lasting memorial to a derby hated by our side of it.
Posterity will ne’er survey
A nobler grave than this:
Here lie the bones of the Old Firm game.
Stop, traveller, and piss.